Duathlon : Castlebar Duathlon Byrne roasts competition on the Booster for empathic win

One of the best days of the new year saw more than 150 athletes take on the Castlebar Adventure Duathlon, with two distances to choose from and a relay option that attracted the non adventure specialists there was something for everyone in this event.

With no clear favourites in either distance, it was wide open for anyone to have a go at taking the title with last year’s winner Con Doherty a non starter.

The shorter route suited a cyclist as the runs were very short and the cycle was long and very hilly and technical. The short race took in a 3k run, 22k cycle (the option for relay groups ), and another 3.5k run. The long race was a 3k run, a 7k cycle, 8k run, 15k cycle, and a 3.5k run to finish it off.

The initial run for all participants was 3k starting outside the Harlequin Hotel, Lannagh Road, where all the participants were led away by a fleet of Shaw Commercials Renault vans to the entrance of the picturesque Lough Lannagh walk, with the relay and short course athletes willing to sprint around the run course, the long distance athletes had to pace themselves fearing they might blow up later.

Over the bridge on Lough Lannagh, relay runner Matt Gill from Hollymount led them followed closely by John Byrne from Mayo AC, but once they hit the initial slopes of the gym hill with Croagh Patrick towering majestically in the distance Byrne took over leading a long snake up the zigzag incline.

At transition one beside St Patrick’s National School, Byrne had a slight lead over Gill (relay ) but his closest rival in the long category race was Joe Moran of Westport AC, with Barry Loftus, Crossmolina, of Liquid Motion Ballina hot on his heels, and with him being a strong biker he would have fancied his chances. In transition one Byrne who is a complete novice to adventure racing had trouble with his helmet and was in third position leaving transition.

The bike course headed out over the rolling hills of Rathbawn towards Glenisland, Byrne’s lack of cycling really showed up and he was passed by a multitude of strong bikers, by the time the athletes had reached transition two, after the 7k hilly bike section, Joe Moran was leading the long course race followed closely by Loftus and a gang of others all hoping that this was their day, at this stage Byrne was struggling with his bike over the hills of Rathbawn and looked to be out of contention.

Byrne who is a renowned runner came into transition two in about 10th place but soon got to work and ran up the steep slopes of the Booster like they were not there, he ran that fast that he blasted past every athlete in front of him to regain the lead back at transition three, with Joe Moran back again in second overall and Loftus back in third. Byrne’s 8k trek that rose to 1,500 feet scorched this section in 35mins making it the fastest ever Booster run timed.

Byrne now had daylight between himself and the rest of the field but with a 15k hilly cycle to go the tide was against him. Moran, a member of Mayo AC and Westport Covey Wheelers cycling club, was in second overall, with Loftus now suffering on the Booster.

In the Ladies section the strong biking of Nicola Forde from Enniscrone gave her a small lead into the Booster run, with Emer McGrath from Castlebar and Reiltin Shaw from Castlebar in close pursuit. The second cycle back to Castlebar opened up daylight between Forde and McGrath with Shaw now flagging behind as she struggled on the bike section.

The final 3.5k run was the reverse of the initial first run with the added section to the finish in the centre of Castlebar at Market Square, a huge effort by Moran saw him draw level with Byrne at the last transition but the strong running Byrne still had some juice in his legs and left Moran for dead on this last section, winning in a fine time of 1:45:52, Moran came home in second behind him, with Barry Loftus third.

In the ladies’ section the strong biking of Forde gave her a good lead but the strong running Emer McGrath nearly closed her down by the finish line with only seconds separating them, Reiltin Shaw completed the podium with a fine third place. The race was organised by Race Face, the leading promoter of run bike run events in the west of Ireland.

Short course sprinters

This race attracted the biggest field with 81 participants, they had the luxury of not having to climb the Booster hill (8k ) at Glenisland and went straight through at transition one and continued on to Glenisland church.

Matt Gill’s cycling partner (relay team ) Martin Joyce (Ballinrobe ) was storming and opened a good lead over the first individual in this category, who was Stephen Crowley from Westport, and young Ronan Reilly of Castlebar Cycling Club was lying second in the men’s individual with Westport’s Noel McGourty in third overall.

Crowley ran out the winner in emphatic style taking his first win, Ronan Reilly closed slightly on the bike but lost a few seconds in the run to finish second overall, a great result for the youngster, Westport made it two from three on the podium with Noel McGourty putting in a great last run to finish third overall.

Dublin Belpark athlete Nicola Dorey was showing a clean pair of heels to most of the men when lying in fourth place overall and in first place in the female race, and second in the overall individual athlete on the short course. Mayo AC’s Anne Heaney was in second overall in the ladies’ section, with Western Lakes CC Sara Canny in third.

In the ladies the strong all rounder Nicola Dorey won with a huge margin of 10 minutes from Anne Heaney from Castlebar in second place and Hollymount’s Sara Canny in third. Sean O’Malley used his cycling skill and fitness to set the fastest bike split of the day while helping team partner Mairead Cafferkey to the win. The Matt Gill and Martin Joyce team (Western Lakes CC ) had to settle for second but won their category.

Castlebar Adventure Duathlon results

Long Course Men

1st John Byrne (Mayo AC ) 1:45:52

2nd Joe Moran (Achill ) 1:48:04

3rd Barry Loftus (Crossmolina ) 1:50:06

Over 40 Alan Gavin (Castlebar ) 1:55:26

Over 50 Jimmy Feeney (Castlebar ) 2:13:25

Long Course Ladies

1st Nicola Forde (Enniscrone ) 2:12:13

2nd Emer McGrath (Castlebar ) 2:13:29

3rd Reiltin Shaw (Castlebar ) 2:24:46

Over 40 Angela Mc Vann (Castlebar ) 2:37:28

Short Course Men

1st Stephen Crowley (Westport ) 1:06:24

2nd Ronan Reilly (Castlebar ) 1:09:21

3rd Noel Mc Gourty (Westport ) 1:11:37

Over 40 Damien Walsh (Unattached ) 1:12:32

Short Course Ladies

1st Nicola Dorey (Belpark Dublin ) 1:07:09

2nd Anne Heaney (Castlebar ) 1:17:30

3rd Sara Canny (Western Lakes CC ) 1:17:52

Over 40 Ann Kavanagh (Unattached ) 1:21:26


Luke Walsh (Castlebar )


Mixed Team: Mairead Cafferkey and Sean O’Malley (Castlebar and Ballinrobe )

Men’s team: Matt Gill and Martin Joyce (Western Lakes CC )


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